UK Politics

David Cameron laughs off Tory leadership stalking horse plot

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Media captionAlex Cunningham: "Have traces of stalking horse been found in the Conservative Party food chain?"

David Cameron has laughed off reports that some Tory backbenchers are lining up a stalking horse to oust him.

Linking the plot with traces of horse DNA being found in some beefburgers, a Labour MP asked the PM whether "traces of stalking horse" had been found "in the Conservative Party food chain".

The PM joked that the Tories stood for those who want to "get on" and he was glad his MPs took it "very seriously".

Newspapers reported that Adam Afriyie was being groomed as a future leader.

Several other MPs were said to be working on Mr Afriyie's leadership campaign in the event the Conservatives lose the 2015 election and Mr Cameron stands down.

However, Mr Afriyie, a backbencher, has insisted he is "100% supportive" of David Cameron and has said there is "no truth to any of it".

'Flatlining economy'

During Prime Minister's Questions, Labour's Alex Cunningham prompted laughter from his fellow MPs when he asked: "On the subject of food safety, can the prime minister confirm that traces of stalking horse have been found in the Conservative Party food chain?"

Mr Cameron, who joined in the laughter, replied: "I had somewhere in my briefing some very complicated information about the danger of particular drugs for horses entering the food chain and I have to say he threw me completely with that ingenious pivot.

"I think what I would say is the Conservative Party has always stood for people who want to work hard and get on. I am glad that all of those behind me take that very seriously indeed."

Earlier this month, Irish food safety officials found traces of horse and pig DNA in value burgers sold by Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores.

Tesco has said it will introduce a DNA testing system for meat products and has dropped the food supplier it has used for the burgers.

During PM's questions Mr Cameron was also tackled on the economy by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The latest GDP figures showed that the UK economy shrank by 0.3% in the last three months of 2012, fuelling fears the UK could re-enter recession.

Mr Miliband said the economy had been "flatlining" since the coalition came to power and was in the slowest recovery for "100 years".

The Labour leader accused the prime minister of increasing the UK's national debt, adding that the government's economic policies were "hurting" but "not working".

The prime minister insisted the economy was moving "in the right direction", which was shown by falling unemployment.

He said Labour only believed in more spending, more borrowing and more debt.

He added that the EU, OECD and IMF all believed Britain would have the fastest growth of any major economy in this year.

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